Maine Governor Paul LePage has directed Maine County Sheriffs to “cooperate with ICE” regarding the detainment of suspected illegal aliens in Maine County Jails. This order came on the heels of Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce announcing he would no longer detain inmates beyond their time without a warrant.
I get LePage’s point. Our immigration system is not only broken, it goes much farther. It is destructive to the rule of law that matters so much in our nation.
LePage, as the Maine Constitution allows, has said he will remove from office any Sheriff does not follow his directive. There is little doubt that LePage is on solid legal ground.
The question is, did he choose the right opponent? Local law enforcement officials in Maine and around the country have been placed between a rock and a hard place thanks to do-nothing efforts of the do-nothing Congress in Washington DC.
By failing to pass meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform for over a decade and a half, Congress has put the burden on local law enforcement agencies throughout America. It is not the typical role of a County Sheriff to act as an agent of the Federal government regarding immigration matters.
LePage should have directed his fire to Maine 1st District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Maine 2nd District Congressman Bruce Poliquin, Maine Senior Senator Susan Collins and Maine’s Junior Senator Angus King. These four individuals, in co-hoots with your colleagues in Washington DC, have done nothing to solve the immigration crisis our nation faces.
Most reliable estimates show that there are 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants residing in our nation, some here for decades. In addition, the clock is ticking on the so-called Dreamers, who will lose their legal status early next year if Congress does not act.
Washington DC is broken, maybe irreparably. From health care insurance to taxes to infrastructure to immigration reform, Republicans and Democrats have done nothing to alleviate the dire circumstances facing state and local officials on a broad range of issue.
County Sheriffs in Maine are in a very difficult position. If they detain an individual beyond the time they are legally allowed to do so in order to cooperate with ICE, as Governor LePage has directed, they could be creating a financial liability for county tax payers.
If they do not detain an individual, as directed by the Governor, he can legally remove them from office, per the Maine Constitution.
Governor LePage should be using his influence and power to get the attention of Washington DC and the four members of our Federal delegation. Removing County Sheriffs from office over immigration issues is firing at the wrong target.
Until we actually elect leaders to represent Maine in Washington DC, our state and the other 49 will continue to be plagued with these quandaries.
You can help by calling Collins at 202-224-2523 or King at 202-224-5344
Below is a statement by Governor LePage today regarding the issue with County Sheriffs:
Governor Clarifies Statutory and Constitutional Provisions Relating to Sheriffs
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531
AUGUSTA—Governor Paul R. LePage today issued clarifications to address misinformation regarding his directive to county sheriffs to cooperate with ICE detainment requests.
“We are a nation of laws,” stated Governor LePage. “We expect our law enforcement officials to comply with the law.”
The following clarifications include the citations from the Maine Constitution or State law as applicable.
1) The Constitution of the State of Maine unambiguously states that the Governor may remove a sheriff from office. Article IX, Section 10 grants the Governor this removal power whenever he, upon complaint, due notice and hearing finds that a sheriff is not faithfully or efficiently performing any duty imposed by the sheriff by law.
2) Under state law, the Governor has the authority to direct Sheriffs to obey all orders relating to law enforcement. Many members of the media are confused or have neglected to include that Maine state law also gives the Governor the authority to direct county sheriffs. This statute has been left out of many stories: “Sheriffs shall obey all orders relating to law enforcement which they receive from the Governor” 30-A M.R.S.A. §401(4).
3) One way the Governor may receive a complaint for removal is through the County Commissioners. Maine state law (30-A M.R.S.A. §441) provides county commissioners with the ability to file a complaint for removal whenever they find that the sheriff is not faithfully or efficiently performing their duties. This is only one method by which the Governor may receive a complaint.
Governor LePage expects all county sheriffs in Maine to follow the law and his legal directive, as outlined in his Sept. 26 letter to all county sheriffs. The Governor’s goal is to ensure all Maine children, families and citizens are kept safe from harm.